Professor David Dorfman ’81 makes Broadway debut

Dorfman receives Lucille Lortel Award nomination for previous run of Indecent

(L-R): Aaron Halva (with accordion), Matt Darriau (with clarinet), Lisa Gutkin (with violin) and company in
(L-R): Aaron Halva (with accordion), Matt Darriau (with clarinet), Lisa Gutkin (with violin) and company in "Indecent." Photos by Carol Rosegg

After several weeks of tech rehearsals and previews, Indecent officially opened last night at Broadway’s Cort Theater.

It’s a beautiful story, and David Dorfman ’81 hopes the world loves it.

“I’m feeling fantastic about it,” said Dorfman, who choreographed the play. “I just want it to be experienced by as many people as possible.”

Broadway marks the fourth run for the highly acclaimed play written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel and directed by Rebecca Taichman. Indecent, which originally premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre Oct. 8, 2015, tells the true story of another Broadway play, the controversial 1923 debut of Sholem Asch’s The God of Vengeance. Seen by some at the time as a seminal work of Jewish culture, others viewed the play as an act of traitorous libel; its producers and cast were even jailed for obscenity.

Dorfman, who leads the influential modern dance company David Dorfman Dance, said his challenge was to make the dance sections “very Jewish, and at the same time, innovative and new.”

“I set up a gestural vocabulary from the very beginning that speaks to what it is to be Jewish and at the same time confounds what we view as Jewish traits, movements and expressions,” Dorfman said.

Creating choreography for a play has been an entirely new experience for Dorfman, whose work has been primarily in concert dance and in the classroom. But he says the entire experience has been thrilling.

“It’s been a wonderful process—to see how many ways the play has changed, how many rewrites have been done, how many different tacks the director has taken,” he said. “We worked on every dance this time. It’s hard work, but I’d love to do it again. It’s all positive gravy.”

More positive gravy: Dorfman has been nominated for a 2017 Lucille Lortel Award for choreography for last year’s run of the play at New York’s Vineyard Theatre.

“It’s nice news to get when your Broadway run is starting.”

Indecent has received wide acclaim from critics. The New York Times called it “a superbly realized, remarkably powerful new play,” while Variety described it as a “riveting backstage drama.”

For his part, Dorfman has enjoyed sharing the story with Connecticut College students, alumni and President Katherine Bergeron, who attended a preview performance and follow-up Q&A.

“I’m very grateful for the incredible support I’ve received from everyone at Connecticut College,” he said.

-- Learn more

April 20, 2017